Under 20s secure second spot with win at City

Posted on Saturday, May 21st, 2016

Spartans Under 20s finished in a well-deserved runners-up spot in the Development League after defeating Edinburgh City 1-3 in the final game of the campaign at Meadowbank Stadium on Friday evening.

There were places in the starting XI for Daniel Sutherland and Josh Williamson whilst Johnny Grotlin and Brandon Archibald took up a berth on the ‘bench’, a metal piece of street furniture on the touchline at the concrete vacuum.  It was also great to welcome all the way from Canada, the Hendry entourage, including Ewen’s dad who religiously follows the games on Twitter from across the Pond!

Despite being basement dwellers in what’s been a tough season for the home side, it was almost a dream start when one of the most famous names in world football, Ronaldo – Taveres, not Christiano – delivered a wake-up call when he blasted wide after our goalie’s early jitters saw the keeper fumble.

A chance at the other end to break the deadlock early in the end of season Edinburgh Derby came from a sweeping Dylan Tait dash down the flank, he crossed into the box, only for Harry Girdwood to shoot over the bar from twelve yards out.

The Spartans No.1 atoned for his shaky start by going airborne to deny Esdras Lukieto who let fly from the edge of the box.  The keeper clawing the ball away from its certain destination of the back of the visiting onion bag.

Adam Corbett found himself unlucky with two opportunities in quick succession, a powerful header that was well saved by Luke Mancini followed by a mazy run through the middle that just couldn’t find the end product the fine piece of individual skill deserved.

With moments to go until the players retreated to the salubrious sheds, it was the woodwork and some desperate defending that kept the scoreboard blank at the break.  Shaun Miller’s free-kick was initially fumbled down low by Mancini with the keeper just about recovering to do enough to deny Girdwood who hit the base of the post as he looked to scoop up the scraps.

HT: Edinburgh City 0-0 Spartans

Josh Williamson didn’t look out of place in the back division and he despatched one clearance from a challenge into the stand – no mean feat considering the running track – which took some quick reaction from a crowd member to avoid contact!  Later the youngster tweeted, “Canny believe I just lamped my nana in the heed with a size 5 mitre”.  Undoubtedly one of the tweets of the season.

Cometh the hour, cometh the changes.   Grotlin and Archibald were introduced into a game that was as dry as the surface itself and they replaced Miller and Clark.

It was almost the perfect introduction from Grotlin who skimmed the bar after putting foot to ball following Girdwood’s timely delivery into the box leaving the visitors to wonder if there was a magnetic relationship between ball and metalwork!

Then, in the 63rd minute, the breakthrough.  A neat one-two between the bench boys Grotlin and Archibald allowed the latter to score in off the post.

That lead was doubled in 76th minute when Spartans swept from defence to attack in one fell swoop with Grotlin once again the provider, this time for Girdwood who made no mistake.

With seven minutes left, City made matters interesting when Grant Aitken’s direct free-kick from a full 25 yards flew past the best efforts of the keeper to halve the deficit.

However the two goal gap was restored shortly after. Dylan Tait just couldn’t get the ball out from underneath his feet in a packed six yard box and it fell to Girdwood who nudged over from close range.

Girdwood was then fouled inside the box in the dying stages.  The striker dusted himself down to take the spot-kick, only for Mancini to deny the striker his hat-trick with save.

FT: Edinburgh City 1-3 Spartans

In what has largely been a year of rebuilding for Manager Les Atkinson and his coaching tem, a second place spot with a squad predominately populated by first year players has been a great achievement and bodes well for the future.

The immediate future however sees attentions turn to next week’s last outing of a long season with a shot at silverware in the Challenge Cup Final against Preston Athletic at Peffermill.

Next Fixture

Date: 16/07/24
Opponent: Cove Rangers
Venue:Balmoral Stadium
Competition: Premier Sports Cup
Kick off: 7.45pm

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